Flying high over the Last Frontier
Alaska's tourism industry is anything but stagnant. While much of Alaska's draw is in its ageless natural features--glaciers, mountains, rivers, and lakes--the lure of the Last Frontier doesn't end there. To the delight of residents and guests alike, several ziplines have been established in Alaska, offering amazing views and an affordable rush of adrenaline.
In the valley, it may be about the Matanuska Glacier, which is about four miles upstream from the Nitro, a zipline experience offered by Mica Guides. Don Wray, owner of Mica Guides, says "Our zipline is about adrenaline. It's one big, fast zipline ... The total length of cable might be the same as other ziplines around, but it's all done at once."
The Nitro is 1,500 feet long, and guests climb a three-story tower to begin their adventure. Guests may barely be able to see the end of the zipline, being almost a quarter of a mile away, but they'll have no trouble viewing the surrounding mountains and river nearly 200 feet below.
Wray anticipates that their new zipline, which at press time was unnamed, will have been completed by late July. "The one we're planning, we won't know until we test it, but it's probably going to be the fastest zipline in Alaska," Wray says.
The new zipline will be taller, longer, and faster, beginning at the top of cliffs 250 feet above the river and stretching 2,200 feet.
Wray says, "I've been happily surprised at the local response to our zipline. We get a lot of locals out to ride it." The zipline being close to the major population center of Anchorage certainly helps. "It can just be a good day trip," Wray says.
Moving farther north down the highway to Talkeetna, Denali Zipline Tours offers a different experience. Instead of one zipline, Denali Zipline Tours offers a three-hour canopy adventure, according to Riley Foster, marketing manager. "We have nine ziplines [and] three suspension bridges; [guests] repel about fifteen feet from one platform to another, [and] there's spiral staircase from one platform to another." The last leg of the adventure is the longest zip, about six hundred feet, and travels right over a lake.
Before guests actually climb to the first platform, they participate in Ground School, where guides make sure all of the zipliners are comfortable with what's going to happen and familiar with hand signals used during the adventure.
"The cool thing is that it's an active tour, so we get a...